A writer’s style is a reflection of his or her personality – a unique voice – with their very own way of approaching their readers.

Every piece written has a specific purpose. Writers may want to explain how something works, to persuade people to agree with their point of view, or to educate others though fiction.

While there are as many writer’s styles as there are writers, there are only four general purposes that lead someone to write a piece. Knowing the different types of writing and their usages is important for any writer.

The 4 styles, or types, of writing:

1. Expository or explanatory

Explanatory writing’s main purpose is to explain. It is a subject-oriented writing style, in which authors focus on educating others about a given topic or subject without voicing their personal opinions. It might be done though essays or articles containing relevant facts and figures. This is one of the most common types of writing in non-fiction. You will see it in self-help books or how-to articles.

Key Points:

  • Explains something in a process.
  • Often equipped with facts and figures.
  • Usually in logical order and sequence.

When You Would Use Explanatory Writing:

  • Textbook writing.
  • How-to articles.
  • Recipes.
  • News stories
  • Business, technical, or scientific writing.

2. Descriptive

In detailed writing, the  main purpose is to describe a character, an event, or a place in great detail, and may even be poetic.

The purpose and goal of descriptive writing is to bring your reader into the written work as if the reader were experiencing it first hand.

Non-fiction pieces such as memoirs and creative non-fiction can fall under the category of descriptive writing.

Key Points:

  • often poetic in nature
  • describes places, people, events, situations, or locations in a highly-detailed manner.
  • the author uses the five senses; visualizing what he or she sees, hears, tastes, smells, and feels.

When You Would Use Descriptive Writing:

  • Poetry
  • Journal or diary writing
  • Nature writing
  • Descriptive passages in fiction

3. Persuasive

This writing’s main purpose is to convince and contains the opinions and/or biases of the author. There will be justifications and reasoning – to sway your readers’ thoughts.

The whole purpose is to influence someone into believing or doing something. As the word persuasive suggests – the goal is to persuade someone’s actions or thoughts to align with your own, as the writer. It is a call to action.

Persuasive writing is intended to convince someone of something. It must begin with a great deal of research and logical analysis – while attempting to make an emotional connection to the desired audience. This example often uses adjectives, persuading the reader to see the event or situation the author’s way.

Key Points:

  • Equipped with reasons, arguments, and justifications.
  • The author takes a stand and asks you to agree with his or her point of view.
  • Often asking for readers to do something about the situation.

When You Would Use Persuasive Writing:

  • Opinion and editorial newspaper pieces.
  • Advertisements.
  • Reviews (books, music, film, movie, restaurants, etc.).
  • Letter of recommendation.
  • Letter of complaint.
  • Cover letters

To begin persuasive writing, you must have an opinion that you’re trying to persuade others of—then support that opinion with evidence.

4. Narrative

Narrative writing’s main purpose is to tell a story. The author will create different characters and tell you what happens to them.

There is a story to be told with a clear plot, complete with setting, characters, dialogue, conflict and resolution. A narrative piece often has a timeline or sequence of events which further builds to the point of conflict and/or resolution.

Key Points:

  • A person tells a story or event.
  • There are characters and dialogue.
  • With definite beginnings, intervals, and endings.
  • Situations, events, and disputes or conflicts with eventual solutions.

Examples of  When You Would Use Persuasive Writing:

  • Novels
  • Short stories
  • Novellas
  • Poetry
  • Autobiographies or biographies
  • Anecdotes
  • Oral histories

Conclusion

There are many sub-types of writing that may fall in one or more of these categories. A writer must know all these styles in order to identify the purpose of his or her own writing and make sure it’s something the audience wants to read.